The Wicklow Rock Art Project (W.R.A.P.) was established by the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, in May 2012 as a pilot scheme to explore the potential of photogrammetry in rock art recording. 18 known rock art sites were recorded using this technique, which involves taking a series of overlapping images of a rock art panel to create a 3D model. These computer models enable the creation of perspectives not possible in the field, and allow for repeated virtual contact with the rock art, while also monitoring deterioration to the actual panel. W.R.A.P. aims to create a rock art record which can be used as a research resource, a conservation tool, but also to encourage public engagement by presenting this record in a visually engaging and accessible manner. By creating an environment of public engagement and interaction, the project hopes to increase general awareness of rock art in Wicklow, which should result in an increase in identification of new rock art sites. Perhaps more importantly, it aims to increase a sense of identification with rock art sites and help to foster a sense of guardianship of this hidden art.
The idea for W.R.A.P. arose from Dr. Clíodhna Ní Lionáin’s doctoral thesis, which examined modern perceptions of prehistoric Irish-Iberian connections. As part of this, she explored how open-air rock art is presented and promoted in her study areas (Ireland and NW Iberia). This led her to set up the Wicklow Rock Art Project, in which she has been helped by Ken Williams, a talented photographer with an infectious enthusiasm for all things archaeological. Some of his beautiful photographs can be seen here, but to view more, his website www.shadowsandstone.com is well worth a visit.